Suffolk waste sent to China

THOUSANDS of tonnes of recyclable rubbish from Suffolk were shipped to China because of a lack of processing facilities in the county, it has emerged.The junk was sent on a journey of more than 5,000 miles for recycling as it was the “most cost-effective” way of treating the trash, said council bosses.

By Jonathan Barnes

THOUSANDS of tonnes of recyclable rubbish from Suffolk were shipped to China because of a lack of processing facilities in the county, it has emerged.

The junk was sent on a journey of more than 5,000 miles for recycling as it was the “most cost-effective” way of treating the trash, said council bosses.

Three thousand tonnes of plastics, cans, paper and cardboard were exported in containers over a 14-month period, until last June.

Suffolk County Council said if the rubbish had not been sent around the world, it might not have been recycled at all or other recycling projects would have been scrapped.

Now, with a larger recycling plant built at Great Blakenham, near Ipswich, councils are no longer sending their rubbish to the Far East.

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Mark Deer, household waste service officer for Suffolk County Council, said: “Some recyclable material was exported to China from Suffolk between April 2002 and June 2003.

“This was because at the time it was the most cost-effective way of dealing with it – if it had not been exported Suffolk councils would have had to pay an additional £20 per tonne to have it recycled in this country.

“The items that were exported were plastics, cans, paper and cardboard from kerbside collections throughout the county and also some plastics from the household waste and recycling centres.

“Three-thousand tonnes were exported over the 14 month period, in containers that would have been otherwise returning to China empty, as we import more from China than we export to them. There is also a very good market for recycled material in Asia.

“If the material had not been exported they would have been landfilled or some recycling schemes would have had to stop.”

He added: “As we now recycle more in Suffolk, a larger recycling facility has been built at Great Blakenham and we are able to recycle these materials in the county.

“Suffolk is currently recycling 500 tonnes of waste a week through this facility.

“With the introduction of new recycling schemes across the county and the extra facilities being made available at the household waste and recycling centres, we are moving forward to meeting the Government's recycling targets.”

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